A Button Down Skirt Tutorial
It’s that time again–time to think about spring outfits. This year seems to be all about flirty little skirts. My daughter saw several she likes, but being my daughter, says, “Mom, I bet you can make this for me, huh?” Well, yes, but I love short cuts, too. This is an easy skirt to make. By upcycling a dress shirt, the hard work is done for you: the buttons/button holes, which is perfect for young sewers, beginning sewers, and busy moms. Everything else is a snap. In no time at all, you can have a cute skirt.
I know there are a lot of sewing tutorials for making skirts from a man’s dress shirt. But here’s the deal, my daughter does not want to look like she’s wearing a man’s dress shirt turned skirt. She wants a skirt just like the one she saw in American Eagle or on the Anthropology website. She wants it to look like a store bought skirt. What’s most certainly cute on a 3 or 4 year old is not necessarily cute on an 18 year old. You know what I mean? I thought I would share how I made a skirt that looks like a skirt and nothing more.
The whole idea was to make her some summer clothes that she could wear to work, and save her money for college. She’s working full time this summer to save up for college expenses.
Gather Your Materials
First thought: the dress shirts that work best for this project are light weight and have a small-scale print. Larger sizes will give you more fabric to work with as well.
I found this one that my husband has outgrown [I know, as adults, we don’t really out-grow things. But it sounds nicer, don’t you think?] It has no flaws or stains, and it has all the right ingredients to make a pretty skirt.
You’ll also need:
- interfacing and single fold, narrow bias tape for the waistband
- 1/2 yard or so of lightweight fabric if lining your skirt
Make a Plan
I’m making this skirt for my oldest daughter. She’s 18 and needs work clothes; she works in retail, so she needs dress-casual clothes for the summer months. This design is both cute and young professional dress code approved.
Start with the waist measurement–this will be your waistband length. Measure where the skirt’s waistband will sit. My daughter wants it to sit on her hips: 33″ waist measurement
Next measurement that’s needed is the length. She wants it to be short, but not too short for work–falling at her fingertips (dress code length): 13 ” length measurement [Did I ever tell you were are short ladies?]
Waistband will be 1″, so with a total finished length of 13″, my skirt piece needs to be finished at 12″.
Skirt piece: Add hem allowance (I added 1/4″ for hemming), plus seam allowance on top where it will be sewn to the waistband (3/8″ seam allowance).
12+1/4″+3/8″= 12 5/8″ is what the length I cut my skirt piece.
Waistband: needs to be 33″ finished [no growing room or elastic for this 18 year old. For a younger child, I would add to the waistband and insert an adjustable waistband. To add this is simple to do, see this post]
The height of the waistband: 3″, so I cut my waistband 3″ x 33 1/4″ (I only added 1/4 ” for the one side to fold over, since I am using a finished side for the other end)
Begin by pressing the dress shirt. With it buttoned, lay it on your cutting mat and cut it right under the sleeves.
Cut the skirt piece to the length you need. My length measurement for the skirt piece was 12 5/8″ long.
Cut out your waistband: My waistband measurement for cutting was 33 1/4″ x 3″. I used the part I trimmed off (shown in the above picture) for the waistband.
Sewing the Skirt
Hem the skirt piece.
I serged the raw edge. Folded it toward the wrong side and stitched the 1/4″ hem.
Since the shirt I’m using is so light weight, it’s see-through [a huge fashion faux pas]. So I lined it, which is so easy to do. Cut a piece of lightweight fabric the same size (or slightly bigger than) as your skirt piece. Hem the lining.
Place the lining on top of the skirt piece, having the wrong side of the skirt facing the right side of lining. Make sure the lining hem is above the skirt hem, so it doesn’t show when finished. Tuck the center front edges of the lining under the flap of the shirt placket if possible.
If not possible, then finish the center front edges of the lining . Pin and sew the lining to the center front of skirt piece.
Baste the lining to the skirt piece along the top edge. Trim any extra lining fabric.
If gathering the skirt piece, then make gathering stitches now.
Add interfacing to the waistband.
Add bias tape to one edge of waistband (this edge will be on the inside of the skirt).
Here is one of those times that you need to consider your feet. This adjustable binding presser foot is amazing and helps you to achieve high end results when sewing a binding on your sewing projects. Snaps on and does its job like nobody’s business.
It has 3 slots. Insert the bias trim into the top and bottom slots, as shown. Pull it so it’s sticks out the back a bit.
Then insert the fabric that you will be sewing the binding onto–it gets its own slot (the middle slot), as shown.
Set your needle position to sew along the inside edge of the bias trim and use a straight stitch. Begin sewing and the foot does most of the work, you just help keep everything in its place as it feeds into the binding presser foot. Easy Peasy!
Make the belt loops. Press a strip about 15-20 inches long into double fold bias tape style. I cut mine 1 1/2″ wide for narrow belt loops. You can use that awesome binding foot to sew it closed. Just insert the bias tape and sew.
Cut the strip into 5 pieces, each about 3″ long.
Pin the belt loops and waistband to the skirt, right sides together. Pull on the bobbin threads of the gathering stitches to make the skirt piece fit the waistband. Adjust the gathers to look nice and even. You can also add pleats. I chose gathers for a softer look and it’s what the inspiration skirt had, but not too gathered for fear of a poofy looking skirt. [I’m sewing for an 18 year old– not making a twirl skirt for a 5 year old]
Sew the waistband to skirt.
Press the seam allowances toward the waistband. Fold and press the center fronts of the waistband toward the wrong side.
Fold the waistband lengthwise toward the inside and press. Press the waistband on the outside as well as the inside. This makes it behave better. Stitch the waistband in place, by sewing right in the fold of the seam where the skirt and the waistband are sewn together (stitch in the ditch), or just to the side of it on the waistband. Make sure the belt loops are down and out of the way as you sew the waistband.
Use a seam ripper to remove any basting or gathering stitches that are not enclosed within the waistband.
Fold the belt loops into place and bar tack the top of each belt loop. After bar tacking them in place, you can trim any extra.
Make a buttonhole on the waistband. I thought I was being clever in using an existing buttonhole for my waistband. [sigh] I had to sew buttonhole on the inside, using the blanket stitch. Not really a time saver move. Oh, well. Sew on a button to the waistband. Remember to add the shank, so it’s easy to button and unbutton. See this post for how to properly sew a shank.
And there you have it: a button down dress
shirt skirt! What a pretty skirt. My daughter is very happy with it. It looks darling on–I will try to update this post to include a modeled picture.
Add a belt and start planning your outfits. This skirt will look awesome with all different types of shirts and shoes. Dress it down with a chambray button down shirt and cami, paired with converse for a casual outing. Or put a more work friendly outfit together with a summery blouse and flats (oh! or strappy heels).
How fun is that! I hope you enjoyed the sewing tutorial and make a spring skirt one weekend soon!